Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mare Non Stop - Ristorante Al Palazzo , Positano (Sa)

Positano.  One of the hottest tourist spots on the Amalfi Coasts.  If you visit in the summer, you're sure to find visitors from all over the globe who want to spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days on this indescribable piece of coastline.
One late August afternoon I decided to join those vacationers for a stroll through the side streets that lead down to the small pebbly beach.  After a  little window shopping and a gelato alla fragola, I headed to my destination for the evening. - Hotel Palazzo Murat or more specifically, Al Palazzo, the hotel's restaurant.  There I was met by head sommelier and Maitre D' Arturo Terminiello.  Over a glass of pink French champagne (Bruno Paillard), Terminiello shared with me a few stories and lessons learned from his 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry.  I, as usual, was curious about the wine list, the wine cellar of a 4 star hotel with clients from all over the world.  Would there be wines from all over as well?  What about Campania?  Would I only see the big guys or would there be some local territory.  We headed to the cantina to continue our conversation.

Arturo Terminiello

Al Palazzo's wine cellar is located in a renovated well.  Climate controlled at a cool 18-20 degrees Celsius with 65-70 % humidity, the wines rest here until they are ready to be served.  Terminiello's philosophy for his wine list is to share Italy with the international guests who choose to dine in the restaurant's intimate garden. So throughout the cellar,  I  saw some of the top labels from Italia's popular wine regions.

But I also noticed that there was a large Campania section, including wines from nearby Tramonti.  He picked out a white wine from  Monte di Grazia.  Monte di Grazia Bianco 2012 to be exact.  A white wine produced with biancatenera, ginestra e pepella grapes. This wine would pair well with my desire for territory and the chef's menu which I would have the chance to enjoy later.

Chef Sabatino Amendola
So, now that the wine was set...what about the menu to match my mare non stop theme?  The man who would answer that question would be  Sabatino Amendola, Al Palazzo's Executive Chef.  Amendola has worked many places around the globe; Germany, France, the Caribbean, and the United States.  Here  in Positano, his desire is to use the best products from the Coast and all over Campania to give his clientele a taste of the territory.  So what did he have for me?  
I would soon find out...

Terminiello seated me in the intimately lit garden filled with soft background music that successfully covered the hum of tourists that pass by the busy vico outside the restaurant's door. Thefull  moon was out, the mood was set, and my dishes began to arrive, one comfortably after the other...beginning with some delicious homemade bread and bread sticks..

San Marzano tomato filled with buffalo mozzarella, eggplant, and olives served on a bed of creamed zucchini.

Scallop with a creamy bean sauce and mela annurca, an apple native to Campania.

Octopus salad with capers and fresh green beans.

Linguine and shrimp topped with toasted herb seasoned breadcrumbs.

Paccheri from Gragnano with a creamy Provolone di Monaco Dop sauce and black truffles.

Lightly sauteed Amberjack fish with creamy potatoes, green peppers, and tomatoes.

During the meal, it was hard not to notice the other diners in the garden.  There were couples, groups of friends, and families.  All treated with care by the careful attention of the dining room staff.  A staff who was not only knowledgeable on the wines being poured, but also able to fully describe the plates that they brought to the table.  

It was time for dessert. One of the desserts that  I enjoyed was a ricotta tart with ginger cookies which paired nicely with a Antonio Caggiano's Mel passito.  Unfortunately the photo snapped does not do it justice.

I finished my meal with a cafe' and a little conversation.  Al Palazzo did what I hoped it would.  Make a garden full of international guests, myself included, feel at home...away from home.

Ristorante Al Palazzo
Via dei Mulini, 23
Postano (Sa)
089 875 177

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